It has been a while since we last set foot in a world of scares and uncertainty, seven years in fact (since the original BioShock). BioShock Infinite is set almost fifty years before the events of Rapture and, as always, it starts with a lighthouse. You play as Booker DeWitt and it is your job to retrieve Elizabeth and pay off a debt to unscrupulous individuals. When ringing the bells at the top of the lighthouse for the first time and you see the red lights blink in the sky with musical sounds – this reminds you of the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” when they communicate with the spacecraft and its visual light show.
In previous BioShock games we travelled to the bottom of the sea, however this time around you are heading up into the clouds, presented with a city that actually floats upon barges and is bustling with people.The city of Columbia is buzzing with bright elegant colours resulting in a world full of interest. As you stroll along the streets, you notice children splashing each other in a puddle of water from a burst fire pipe. A barbershop quartet sings “God Only Knows” upon a floating barge or hearing a panpipe fairground cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. There is just so much going on in Columbia, and for the first hour of the game you just want to walk around and enjoy everything that is occurring. All of these factors however, create a feeling of unease, that things are out of place.
During combat you get to use Vigors, these are similar to Plasmids from the original game. The Vigors use up Salts and can be used effectively in combat. These let you summon murderous crows, control enemy robotics or cover massive distances in an instant for an immediate melee hit.
You can also wear different clothing, which is a new addition to the experience of BioShock Infinite. The clothes that you collect include different abilities, which allow you to automatically reload weapons when jumping on skylines to health boost when you achieve a melee kill. This time around you can only carry 2 weapons at a time, and the weapon circle from the original BioShock is nowhere to be seen!
The hud has been re-designed and the way in which you explore the world has changed to the original games. The mini-map has been removed and instead we are given a green arrow that shows you where to go to reach the next navigation point.
The best way of getting around Columbia is by using skylines. The skylines are like a roller-coaster ride in some respects and you can move along them at high speeds, but you can also slow yourself down too. Jumping onto a skyline and riding along briefly is a good way to move around the world, to reach enemies above you and attack those below. Getting onto a skyline can be inconsistent, you can’t just jump onto one at will. You have to highlight the skyline and then press the A button, which will see you latch onto it with your skyhook.
Elizabeth is covered in mystery, although we do know that she has been locked up in a tower for a long time and it is your job to rescue this damsel in distress and bring her back to New York.
Once you retrieve Elizabeth, things get rather interesting. You will notice a two way mirror in the tower that only shows a reflection of herself, however scientists are lurking on the other side, observing her every move. Elizabeth is accompanied by a large brown metal bird, who has been protecting her for this very reason.
Elizabeth is a very likeable character because of the way she helps you throughout the game and also crucially won’t get in your way during combat. She will grab your attention by shouting “Booker” when she sees any Salts, ammo or coins around. One benefit of Elizabeth is her hidden talent of reaching into tears, grabbing items from another dimension. For instance, if you needed a turret to help you during combat – Elizabeth will access a tear, bringing this crucial weapon into the world. This will act as an advantage for you, but if you bring in cover to shield you from attacks, the turret will unfortunately be replaced.
The bond between Booker and Elizabeth is very touching and is the most realistic I have ever seen in a video game. It reminds me of the bond between the Little Sisters and the Big Daddies in the original BioShock. At the start of the game, Booker is a reluctant hero and you will see the progression throughout this has been a challenge to come across.
BioShock Infinite’s graphics are stunning with the vibrant colours of the City Columbia, but up close the graphics can be faded. However it is the story that is where BioShock Infinite really shines with the bond between the main character and Elizabeth.
BioShock Infinite is an excellent game and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Once you finish the game it will make you play the original BioShock all over again, which is truly saying something about this release. With additional content announced in the future, I cannot wait to see other areas to explore and what Booker and Elizabeth get up to next.